Russia’s Kommersant newspaper is peddling a bizarre and baseless rumor that, at NATO’s upcoming anniversary summit in April, the Obama administration will unveil a plan to transform the body into a “league of democracies” to replace the United Nations.
For those who don’t remember, the “League of Democracies” was an idea that, while actually proposed by scattered voices from both the left and the right, not as a creation of the McCain campaign, as Kommersant erroneously reports, was given a lot of play as one of the primary planks of the former U.S. presidential candidate’s foreign policy platform. Kommersant seems to have built its flimsy case for the League’s revival by stretching a single fact: that Ivo Daalder, one of those voices from the left who at one time expressed support for some form of an organization of democracies, will now be Obama’s ambassador to NATO (Kommersant might well have also noted that Anne-Marie Slaughter, another liberal who was once warm to the idea, also occupies a high position in the Obama Administration). So from a paper he wrote over two years ago, in which Daalder discussed a “Concert of Democracies” — never mentioning it as a possible transformation of NATO — Kommersant has evidently concluded that he will use his new position to go around President Obama’s policies and single-handedly engineer the evolution of NATO into an organization that nobody is even mildly interested in.
Why would Kommersant report such an out-there rumor as the top item on the United States’ NATO agenda? Journalistic shoddiness aside, this seems to be an exercise in paranoia-mongering. Russia was (obviously) none too keen on the whole League of Democracies idea from the get-go, and its feelings on NATO are rapidly souring with the push for membership of countries like Ukraine and Georgia. Claiming that the United States is building NATO into a confrontational organization to threaten Russia is simply trying to pick a fight that no one wants to have. About the only thing that this Russian political analyst has right is that this fictional idea is a “non-starter from the beginning.” The question, then, is why Kommersant decided to start it in the first place.